Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Imposter

2012, 15, Directed by Bart Layton

Nicholas Barclay disappeared when he was 13 years old. Four years later, the boy is found...only the boy, as the director of this mesmerising documentary pits to us from the offset, wasn't Barclay - but a 23-year-old imposter named Frédéric Bourdin. A plot twist perhaps more suited to the high-octane third act of an art-house indie flick, but here is brandished in the audience's face and smeared with the knowledge that these events are true-to-life, barely after the film has commenced. So with no scriptwriter placing words in actor's mouths, Layton is tasked with something he adapts to with sheer skill: he places his subjects on screen and, with unadulterated bravery, gets them to talk. What emerges just so happens to be even more gripping, tantalising and chilling than what even the most noted screenwriter could conjure.

To talk more of the real life case at the forefront of The Imposter would be to tarnish the suspense that is maintained for almost the entire running time. Suffice to say, all the questions are addressed: why did Bourdin decided to 'become' Barclay? How did Barclay’s family come to welcome Bourdin into their home? Through editing, manipulation of the sound track, archive footage and the controversial Crimewatch-esque recreation scenes, an uneasy sense of dread is no doubt present off the back of these points. Once all the strands are placed together, and slotted into their place - when the proverbial penny drops - your breath will have long been taken from you and will not be given back until the film reaches its strangely unresolved climax.
This is one you'll want to talk about.


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